Conservative Anglicans Celebrate Growth; Lament Episcopal Actions

Conservative Anglican leader the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns has a message for the Archbishop of Canterbury: "We're here; we're doing the work of Gospel; we are within the Anglican mainstream; and we are doing the very things that he declares that we should be about."

But he can't say the same for The Episcopal Church.

Minns celebrated the growth of his breakaway group, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, this week during their third annual council in Herndon, Va.

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It's a story of redemption, Minns said Friday. "Birthed because of a disaster, the abandonment of biblical Christianity by the leadership of [The] Episcopal Church," CANA grew by 15 congregations and 30 clergy during the last year, bringing the total to now 85 congregations and 179 clergy in 25 states.

And there is growing interest among Anglicans in the United States to join CANA and other conservative groups comprised of churches that left The Episcopal Church – the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.

While conservatives see themselves as remaining faithful to Anglican tradition and Scripture, they see The Episcopal Church veering further away from the rest of the worldwide communion.

"The Episcopal Church is heading in a direction that's incompatible with mainstream Anglican convictions and mainstream Christian faith," Minns told reporters Friday.

This month, Episcopal leaders approved two resolutions that open the ordination process to all baptized members, including practicing homosexuals, and call for the development of liturgical resources for the blessing of same-sex unions.

Those actions, Minns said, takes them "further down the road of apostasy."

"What comes next is hard to predict but one thing is sure – the leadership of The Episcopal Church has made it very clear that there is no turning back, their ears are closed and their hearts are hardened," the CANA bishop said in his address Friday at the annual council.

For the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, what comes next may be a "two-track" structure, or two styles of being Anglican, where each track pursues what they believe God is calling them to be as Church and holds a theological conviction that may differ from the other track.

While Minns appreciates the effort to avoid schism and keep the 77 million-member Anglican Communion intact, he says the two-track model is not feasible at all.

It's well-meaning, he says, but keeping two groups that espouse two irreconcilable truth claims together is futile.

CANA is an offshoot of the Church of Nigeria and a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, a newly established province of some 100,000 conservative Anglicans.

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